Test & Measurement

Power Source Meter Targets iPhone Generation

13th August 2013
Mick Elliott

“It’s all about touch screen now,” says Peter Bachmeyer, technical marketing manager at Keithley Instruments as he introduced the Model 2450 Source Meter. Bachmeyer’s argument backed up customer research is that there is a wider spread of engineers using test instruments, and that an intuitive, touch screen instrument meets their needs.

Bachmeyer instances younger engineers entering the industry –“ the iPhone/iPad generation” - the proliferation of software-oriented engineers in test and measurement, fewer dedicated test engineers, and more non electronics engineers using test equipment.

It is also a fact that as applications and features have grown on the Keithley family of source meters, the accompanying manual has grown to War and Peace dimensions.

By launching the 2450 Bachmeyer asserts that it is making the technology more accessible to new audiences.

The icons allow a user to configure the instrument to their choice with one touch . Options are a 61/2-digit multimeter, true current source, power source and trigger controller.

This philosophy reflects recent market changes, including shrinking product design/development cycles and fewer personnel devoted exclusively to test engineering tasks. The source meter incorporates ease-of-use features including a context-sensitive help function, “Quickset” modes that speed instrument configuration, and on-screen graphing capabilities that quickly turn raw data into usable results.

It combines the functionality of a power supply, true current source, 6-1/2-digit multimeter, electronic load, and trigger controller in one tightly integrated, half-rack instrument. With all of these capabilities, the Model 2450 integrates the capabilities of I‑V systems, curve tracers, and semiconductor analysers at a fraction of their cost.

A full-colour, 5in. touchscreen user interface and large on-screen characters enhance legibility. A simple, icon-based menu structure allows reaching any measurement set-up panel with just a touch.

The new low current (100nA, 10nA) and voltage (20mV) ranges eliminate the need to add separate low-level instruments to a benchtop system. Back-panel triax cable connections eliminate the need for expensive cable adaptors, which can degrade low-level measurement performance.

The touchscreendisplays error messages and an event log to simplify diagnosing instrument errors, for higher productivity.

The KickStart start-up software simplifies taking and graphing data in minutes. For more complex analyses, data can be easily stored to disk, and then exported to Microsoft Excel or another software environment.

Also included is Embedded Test Script Processor (TSP). This embeds complete test programs into non-volatile memory within the instrument itself to provide higher test throughput by eliminating the GPIB traffic problems common to systems dependent on an external PC controller.

TSP-Link connections support system expansion with multiple 2450s and other TSP instruments, including Series 2600B SMU instruments and the Model 3706A Switch/Multimeter. Up to 32 Model 2450 instruments can be linked for multi-point or multi-channel parallel test, under the direction of a master unit’s TSP controller.

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